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Students in Finals Frenzy Finding Pharmaceuticals Online - and Getting Them Without a Prescription

Published Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Digital Citizens Alliance's 2014 Survey of Young People Shows Rising Numbers of College Students Using the Internet to Get Around Doctors for their Drugs

Washington, DC - The Internet is increasingly becoming the source for young people who want prescription medication without going to a doctor - according to a new poll from Zogby Analytics commissioned by the Digital Citizens Alliance. The Zogby survey showed that 28 percent of current college students or recent grads either ordered prescription medication or know someone who did without the necessary prescription by going through the Internet. The number is up 13 percent from last year when the Zogby researchers asked the same question.

"We know that there are 19.7 million college students from the 2011 Census. Perhaps more than 5 million are using the Internet to obtain prescription medication to help cope with finals and other high pressure situations," said Adam Benson, Deputy Executive Director of the Digital Citizens Alliance. " Last year's survey showed there was a large number of students making these purchases. To see an increase like this is a sign that both Universities and parents need to ask some new questions of students."

This finding is part of the Digital Citizens Alliance's second look at the number of students relying on prescription drugs during final exams. Again this year, almost a third of all young people who responded to the poll say they or their friends have taken prescription medication to help study during finals. Of those who took medication, one-third of that group got the drugs without a prescription. Both those numbers were up slightly from last year.

Other findings include:

  • 31 percent of respondents said they had given prescription medication - either their own or someone else's - to a friend to use. That's up eight percent from last year.
  • Respondents located in the southern part of the United States were more likely to give those drugs to others than those in other regions.
  • 72 percent of respondents said they think it is common for students to share prescription drugs.
  • Men were more likely than women to get medication to help get through finals, 38 to 26 percent.

"It is important for the dialogue to begin both on campus and at home with students about the dangers involved with taking prescription medication without a doctor's supervision," Benson said. "There are lives at stake here. Also, the college years are when some people form habits that start with prescription medication and may evolve into something even more destructive. Prescription drug abuse during these years is too big a problem to ignore any longer."

About the Methodology of the Poll

Zogby Analytics conducted an online survey from May 1 to May 13 of 311 current and recently graduated students. The margin of error for 311 respondents is +/- 5.7 percentage points.



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